Film History: An International Journal 17.2/3 (2005) 307-333 // --> [Access article in PDF] Men Without Women: The Avatars of What Price Glory Lea Jacobs We have come to associate stories of male adventure with the suppression of sentiment, but this is far from always having been the case. A somewhat obscure example from the nineteenth century, The Black Avenger of the Spanish Main (Tom Sawyer's favorite adventure story), is cited by Henry Nash Smith in a discussion of mid-nineteenth century low-brow fiction.1 The rather complex plot concludes when the pirate Solanis, after outfighting his enemies in many sea battles and killing some of the governor's best men, brings together the governor who seeks his arrest and a nobleman who, like himself, had been deprived of wife and child. Through a series of wordless tableaux, clearly modeled on Diderot's Discours sur le fils naturel, the pirate re-enacts the separation and reunion of both families, thereby softening the governor's hard heart and bringing all together for a happy end.2 While boy's literature did not often borrow so directly from the proponent of the comédie larmoyante,it remained a sentimental genre well into the twentieth century. Franco Moretti's well known essay on sentiment, 'Kindergarten', often cited by film scholars interested in the creation of tears or pathos, is an essay on boy's literature, not women's fiction.3
Such films were not only targeted at boys. Hook and Ladder No. 9, distributed by FBO Pictures in 1927, concerns two firemen in love with the same girl. Dan is shy and by the time he has proposed, Johnny has wooed and won her. The two men fight, and Dan refuses to accept the situation after Johnny marries the girl, but when the big fire inevitably occurs, Dan nobly rescues Johnny's wife and child (according to Variety there is some doubt about whether or not he dies in the attempt). Variety describes it as 'straightforward handkerchief melodrama' which will 'be most appreciated by unsophisticated customers'. It recommends: 'Best for the neighborhoods and small towns. In the blasé places it would encounter tough sledding'.5
But it was not only films for the neighborhoods or subsequent run theaters which provided this mix of pathos and action. Wings, one of the biggest hits [End Page 307] of 1927, was classed by Variety as of 'vital and universal appeal', belonging to an elite group which included only six other films: The Birth of a Nation (1915), Way Down East (1920), The Ten Commandments (1923), The Covered Wagon (1923), The Big Parade (1925) and Ben-Hur (1925). This classification was based upon the spectacular aerial battle...
People play and relax on the beach, probably in Hawaii. Morris Frieder and his girls wearing flowered leis aboard a boat.00:00:47 Pan of a large garden in the Philippines, probably in Baguio City (see Film ID 2957 at 00:02:56 for film of the same location when the girls are younger). Peggy and a younger girl (likely her sister Sue - b. 1934) pose for the camera. Jane practices swinging a golf club. Catherine O'Connor, the governess from Indiana, helps the girls pick flowers from the garden, and Jane picks up Sue. 00:02:17 A plane lands on a dirt runway. Morris gets out and kisses Sue. The three Frieder girls ride horses.00:05:04 In color. The girls continue horseback riding. Harbor. 00:05:47 Plane makes a water landing near shore. People, many in white suits, gathered on boat ramp to greet plane's riders. 00:06:11 Automobile pulls into the Frieders' gated home in Manila. The girls play in the garden and by the pool. 00:06:44 Women and men in fine attire attend a party on the tennis courts. Close views of women in the Frieder family. 00:08:03 Peggy and Jane in horseback riding outfits, riding.00:09:01 In black and white, Sue plays with a puppy outside the family home in Manila. Car parked in garage. Sue poses, blows kisses to the camera, dances while wearing a hat, and picks up a kitten. The Frieder children play in the pool. 00:10:51 One of the Filipino servants, Vincente, dries off the family's puppy Scampy. The girls ride their horses. More shots of Sue playing outside. 2b1af7f3a8